Restoring an old Pearl kit - maybe - ???


Platinum Member
Wow Hyde, your drums look awesome! The grain is really nice. Very cool looking results!!

Paul69, if that kit can be made serviceable/tuneable, and your 6 yr old is able to play and get enjoyment out of it, I'd go for it.

Sounds like you have some of the stuff to restore it already. I was going by someone not having a clue about what would be involved. Taking off wrap is not hard, and you have the varnish which should work fine. Sanding just takes a little time. With some tension rods and a lug or two, it should be at the least serviceable.

And like I said before, if those shells aren't warped after the way they were left for all that time, no one can dog Export drums.


Platinum Member
Right, first I am going to try and get rid of the rust by polishing/steel wool. If I cant get it good enough to keep me happy, I will use a derust paint system. (have some left over from my boat trailer so theres some bucks saved).

As to the drums themselves, I found a Youtube vid (which I now cant find) of a guy who stained and recovered a set and they looked nice, but if I dont even need to recover, all the better.

Sorry if this is a stupid question, but, would it be wise to finish them in marine quality varnish (which I have a heap of), or would that ruin the sound?
No steel wool,and no marine varnish.Just soak all the metal parts in a mixture of Dawn dish detergent(yes I'm serious) and water for 24 hours,then some diet coke,and use aluminum foil to scrub the parts.I know it sounds crazy,but there's real chemistry behind it.The acid in the coke react with the foil,and deoxidize the rust.You may have some pitting,but that can't be helped.

Marine varnish never completely dries,and has a lingering odor when used indoors.

Steve B


Platinum Member
Be aware that if you try to refinish them, the wood will likely be something on the soft side with an easily raised grain. If you're good at wood finishing, this can be done, but it's not easy. Not like rubbing oil stain on oak or maple. The idea of just painting the existing wrap is much better. I played with a guy in high school who just put Contact paper over a Frankenstein kit to make it look all the same. It would last a few months before getting torn up by moving around and he would strip all the hardware and do it again. Folks probably thought he was rich with a different kit every few months. 8^)

I noticed the reversed bass drum from the position of the tom holder. Hopefully the bearing edge the batter head is supposed to be on isn't too mangled. You may have some fun with a router re-doing it if you're good at woodworking. With a kit like that, no harm no-foul. I redid a Pearl Session kit many years ago. Made them more tuning sensitive but they sounded great. Read up on the drum building forums if you want to try this.


Junior Member
I'm in Oz (as in Australia) and I have a clinker dnghy so am used to varnishing! Smell doesnt bother me, and its not likely to get beat up since its just a kit to mess about with at home. The wrap is well damaged on the bass drum so I'd at least need to do something with this one. Maybe I'll just do that and just clean up the rest as some look okay under the gunk.

The shells have no water damage and are in good solid and round condition. Yes, the base drum is around the wrong way and I wasnt sure why. Will have to have a closer look. I havnt seen any damage there.

I did try rubbing wet foil on a ring and it did remove rust for sure (just that steel wool was faster) I will try the soaking method.

Will get some brasso and see if it does any better than the Autosol metal polish,, especially on the cymbals because the autosol did nothing...

Cleaned up a Tom last night and found that even though the lugs dont seem rusty, they do all seem kind of pitted. Starting to think maybe just clean off as much rust as possible from the metal to get it looking as best I can, and just rub some marine wax onto it....

Tension rods do look a real pain to try and clean up so I'll have to look into getting new ones.

Drums look awesome Hyde, wanna swap! :)

Thanks for all the input everyone, looks like a very friendly helpful forum you lot have here. I'v decided I will do it, but not to the extent of spending heaps of bucks on it. Just get it looking respectable enough is the aim. If the young fella keeps up the interest, I'll get him a new kit in a few years.


Silver Member
Hey Paul,

I restored some old Exports not so long ago. They were in pretty bad shape but no so much as yours. Here's the thread with many pics of the process, it may be helpful to you:

1992 Pearl Export Restoration Process

In your case, I think you should re-wrap them, or re-finish the wood, that can be more difficult.

Old Exports are very nice drums. It'd be cool if you could save them.



Platinum Member
Thanks wild Bill....

No problem. I'm glad you were able to post the pics. The drums look really good.

And ya - cameras do that weird 'fish-eye' thing that kind of distorts the sizes of things. I'm sure the tom looks different in person than it does in the pic.

Cool - now you can post pictures - ha ha.


Junior Member
Umm, yeah well they didnt give me drum sticks with the kit............ I'v ordered some on the internet, but until they arrive, My 6 year old son and I are using a good set of chop sticks, and my 3 year old daughter has pulled out her best fairy wands...

They look very Cool Diego!! Unless I was to start fresh with just the shells, I think mine might be a bit far gone to bring back to that, even if I had the skill, which I probably dont...

Just did a quick search and it appears that like everything else, the rods here are probably going to be very expensive ( could probably buy a decent second hand kit for what it would cost for all new ones..... ) Guess, I'll have to try and clean them up a bit instead, although I'm sure the rust will come back through pretty easily....


Platinum Member
You do realize you have a magic wand on your 13 right? I'd say your problem is solved.
Is that pedal on the back of the kick? Seems like theres no way to get the toms together with the mounts that way (shouldnt the tom mount base be farther away from the throne?)

Am I nuts?


Platinum Member
Is that pedal on the back of the kick? Seems like theres no way to get the toms together with the mounts that way (shouldnt the tom mount base be farther away from the throne?)

Am I nuts?
You are correct.

The prior owner put the back head on the front of the drum.


Senior Member
Practice kit? Knock off the rust and wipe it down. Just getting all that rust off would make it look better. I wouldn't put money in wrapping it. Taking the wrap off, lightly sanding, and staining it would make it look decent and would not cost much. To a six year old that would look like a brand new fancy kit!

Full restoration? Too far gone for that. Can be done, but after you replace all the parts you need and wrap it, you could have bought a used better kit in good shape for the same money.
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Silver Member
Just did a quick search and it appears that like everything else, the rods here are probably going to be very expensive ( could probably buy a decent second hand kit for what it would cost for all new ones..... ) Guess, I'll have to try and clean them up a bit instead, although I'm sure the rust will come back through pretty easily....
Yeah, Australia makes life harder. If you can find an appropriate die you'd probably want one to chase the threads on the tension rods. Tom and snare should be 12/24 threads. 12/24 is a standard but quite uncommon size; a hardware store guy might think you're crazy and need the more common 10/24. I'm not sure about the bass drum since I know Pearl used different sized rods on bass drums. A little machine oil on the threads wouldn't be a terrible idea to help ward off rust... Or maybe even wax everywhere, I'm not completely sure.

The lugs might very well be cast zinc under the chrome, and thus wouldn't be rusted, but could be pitted. Hoops, t-rods, tom mounts and legs are more likely steel, though any cast metal part could be either.

And one other thought: I think that using Coke to clean off rust seems a bit odd. By all means use it if it works, but I'd try dilute white vinegar first just because it would be less of a sticky mess.


Platinum Member
If you're into boating, you may have some Flitz. Never took that stuff to any drum parts, but it definitely cleaned things up on my sailboat.

Because the bass drum head was removed, it's very likely that the bearing edge got dented or nicked. Less of an issue on a bass drum than on a tom, especially if you are going to use damped heads or put felt strips in there. But you may want to check that out. I'm not sure what you can do about it. Maybe there is a spot of flat concrete around that you can spin the shell around and get the edge even, then take a router with a 45 bit and re-cut the edge. Can't make it worse than it is and you learn a skill that you may want to pursue with good drums.

All this is an exercise in playing around with the drums, learning what makes them tick, and maybe ending up with something nicer than what you started with that you can point to and say "I did that".


Junior Member

Not sure what the story is with the base drum. The open edge does not seem damaged at all. From what I can gather, this kit was built between 83 and 88. Since that time, its no doubt been passed around and somewhere along the line, the rods for the front head have gone missing, perhaps someone put it around this way reasoning that if one end is going to be open, it should probably be the end away from where the weight of the Toms sit...

I have sort of made a start. Last night I took the arms apart that hold the Toms on the base drum. Steel wooled em and then metal polished. Rubbed a bit of marine wax around and oiled any threads. They came up very nice, but there was no real rust there so it was pretty easy.

Different with the hoops as rust has knocked off the crome in areas and on one of the toms, the crome coating of the hoops is peeling right off. With the hoops, I have to go back to the paint idea. Do yas reckon I'd get a reasonable finish with a can of crome spray paint on them? If not I'l just go the matt black as suggested...